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Empowerment in service recovery: the role of self-regulation process of frontline employee

Mo Zhang (School of Economics and Management, Shanghai Maritime University, Shanghai, China)
Ruoqi Geng (Department of Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 17 June 2019

Issue publication date: 17 June 2019




In accordance with the commitment–trust theory, employee attitudes and behaviours mediate the impact of empowerment on service recovery performance. The purpose of this paper is to extend the self-regulating process model and develop a structural framework that combines empowerment, self-regulation mechanisms (service recovery awareness, job engagement and emotional exhaustion) and post-recovery satisfaction. This framework explores how empowerment can lead to action of frontline employees (FLEs) in service recovery.


The authors test the hypotheses by investigating 290 pairs of FLEs and customers, who have service failure experience in the express mail industry, using structure equation modelling.


The findings show that empowerment enhances both service recovery awareness and job engagement. On the one hand, service recovery awareness has a positive impact on emotional exhaustion, which has a negative impact on post-recovery satisfaction. On the other hand, job engagement has a positive impact on performance. These results provide the whole picture of the double-edged effects of empowerment on FLEs in service recovery.

Practical implications

This paper indicates that managers should re-consider approaches to empowerment based on self-regulation process to enhance performance following service failure.


This study explores the dark side of empowerment in service recovery from a self-regulation perspective.



The authors are very grateful to Patrick J. Murphy, Moya Clark, the AE and the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments through the preview process. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71702099). The funding source had no involvement in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of the data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the article for publication.


Zhang, M. and Geng, R. (2019), "Empowerment in service recovery: the role of self-regulation process of frontline employee", Management Decision, Vol. 58 No. 5, pp. 828-843.



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